Written On Your Face: How Drug Use Affects Your Physical Appearance and How to Fix It

senior hand sorting through a handful of medications

The social and psychological ramifications of drug use are well known. What many people don’t know, however, is that drug abuse can have a noticeable effect on your physical appearance. Clean, sober living can restore your health and reverse the damage that drugs can cause. 

How do drugs affect your looks? The answer can depend largely on the drug used, as most drugs can affect your health in different ways. To learn more about the negative effects of drugs on your appearance and how to fix the damage, read on.  

Why Do Drugs Change Your Physical Appearance?

There are many reasons that different drugs might change the way you look. What they do to your physical appearance is usually the result of the effect the drugs have on various body systems.

Drugs can affect blood flow to the skin and organs, vitamin absorption problems, hydration levels, and hormonal balance. They can also cause abnormal physical reactions that can lead to skin and tooth damage.

Drug use often makes users appear older than they actually are. Several factors play a role in this aging acceleration. 

Below you’ll find a list of commonly abused drugs and how they can affect the way you look.

Opioids and Opiates

Opioid and opiate abuse has become an epidemic, affecting millions of Americans. Opioid use usually begins when someone is given a prescription to relieve acute pain. Opioid dependence happens quickly, and what began as a way to relieve pain becomes a dangerous addiction.

Opioids can cause skin flushing and red, rashy areas that itch. It also causes skin dryness, which can lead to fragile skin that breaks easily when scratched. This often results in scabs and sores. Additionally, opioids can cause weight loss, excessive sweating, increased cellulite, bags under the eyes, and skin abscesses.  

Heroin

Heroin is an illegal opiate that has effects similar to those caused by prescription opioid abuse. Some heroin users get hooked on illicit heroin from the start, while others turn to heroin when they are no longer able to obtain prescription opioids. 

Heroin has aging effects on the skin, hair, and teeth. Because of a slower heart rate and reduced blood supply, addicts have dull skin. They tend to have a wasted physique from weight loss and pronounced cellulite. 

Heroin also causes a craving for sugary foods. This craving, combined with heroin-induced dry mouth and disregard for hygiene, contributes to tooth decay in users.

The best way to repair the damage caused by opioids and opiates is to get on the path to recovery before it’s too late. Rehab centers and rapid opiate detox programs are the best first step to reclaiming your life and your health.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine drugs are notorious for destroying the physical appearance of users. It doesn’t take long-term use for methamphetamine to affect the way you look. 

Meth has an extremely drying effect on the body. This extreme hydration causes dry skin and worsens acne breakouts. The dry skin causes severe itching, which quickly leads to picking, scratching, and sores. This is especially noticeable on the face.

Meth is also very acidic, which is harmful to tooth enamel. Since it’s a stimulant, it tends to cause users to clench their teeth. This constant pressure, combined with a decline in oral health caused by meth-induced dryness, can cause teeth to break, loosen, or fall out.  

Meth is difficult to quit. Detox programs and medical support, including supportive medications, can help ensure a full recovery and reduce the chance of relapse.  

Alcohol

Alcohol can have an apparent impact on physical appearance, especially for heavy users. Alcohol is very dehydrating, leaving skin dry, dull, and covered in lines and wrinkles. In addition to drying the skin, it also interferes with collagen production, leaving the skin less elastic and more aged-looking. It also interferes with vitamin, mineral, and nutrient absorption. 

Alcohol abuse is hard on the liver. Over time, the liver can be damaged so much that it can no longer efficiently carry out its vital processes. Yellow, jaundiced skin and eyes can be the result of long-term alcohol abuse.   

Alcohol is also high in empty calories, contributing to unwanted weight gain. This weight tends to accumulate around the abdomen.

Recovering from alcohol addiction is easier with external support and involvement in a proven program. In time, the body can repair alcohol-induced damage and sufficiently hydrate, leaving you looking younger and healthier.    

Cocaine

The stimulant drug cocaine can cause weight loss and malnutrition. These factors contribute to an older, less vibrant look. Often, users will have inflammation around the nostrils that make the nose appear irritated and red. 

Cocaine users often don’t feel the need to sleep as much as they should. As a result, they constantly appear tired. Neglect of self-care is common as well. 

Cocaine abuse can result in a significant loss of appetite and severe malnutrition. This is responsible for weight loss associated with frequent cocaine use. Weight gain and puffiness can occur if cocaine is often paired with alcohol, a state referred to as coke bloat.

Marijuana

Heavy marijuana use may affect your hormones. THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, can raise testosterone levels. Increased testosterone can increase oil production, which may lead to increased acne in those prone to breakouts. This testosterone increase may also cause hair loss in some heavy users.  

The smoke from marijuana use may further accelerate aging, as toxins can damage the skin. This is similar to the damage caused by cigarette smoke.  

Discontinuing the use of marijuana can give your body the opportunity to recover and restore hormone balance.  

Sober Living for a Healthy Appearance

Drug use is destructive on many levels. Your physical appearance will certainly suffer from prolonged abuse. There is hope for recovery, sobriety, and a new, drug-free life. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are many options for detoxification and rehabilitation. 

For more great articles on living beautifully and embracing healthful habits, please feel free to explore our informative posts.